What the Sonic the Hedgehog Franchise Really Needs to Get Back on Top

Sonic the Hedgehog is a series that has been looking for its identity for quite some time now. Between listening to fans by providing a retro experience and going ahead and making the series evolve in a new direction, the developers are still struggling to make another truly great and unanimous Sonic gem.

The latest Sonic platform games we’ve seen are Sonic Hedgehog 4 Episode I and II, which brought the series back to its 2D roots, and Sonic Generations, another game looking to capitalize on the nostalgia of gamers. The games didn’t receive too bad reviews, but where’s the fresh content? Prior to that, we saw Sonic Colors, Sonic Unleashed, and so on, but these were more sidestories and alternate worlds for Sonic to take part in. Did the developers totally drop the main Sonic storyline (which story has been shaky for many years), only to release sidestory and nostalgia products?

Indeed, as I look back at games like Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles, the storylines weren't really complex, but at least you could feel like the whole main Sonic plot was evolving. Now, when players pick up a new Sonic game, they almost know for sure that the storyline won't make any progress and simply hope that they will at least get the same feeling of speed when they go through those loops again. I think that’s pretty sad.

The developers weren't always shy to make the story evolve though. In fact, the Sonic the Hedgehog reboot for Xbox 360 and PS3 released back in 2006 boasted a complex storyline that would even satisfy the most demanding Final Fantasy players. However, the Sonic fans didn't quite dig it. The tale involving plenty of time travel and a human princess wasn't really the evolution people were wishing for Sonic. Sonic Adventure made some nice advancements and brought the very popular character Shadow, but the two Sonic Adventures games still went to places hardcore Sonic fans didn't want it to go (vehicle combat being a good example).

What the Sonic the Hedgehog Franchise Really Needs to Get Back on TopSo what's needed exactly? Well, no matter how the storyline might have deviated from its original fun and straightforward nature, it needs to be rebooted and repackaged in a new official Sonic game, something like Sonic 5 as a title. I don't think the amount of 2D and 3D action really matters here, because Sonic fans have gotten plenty of both recently. Sonic 4 was as close as a retro remake as you can get. Right now, it's all about bringing the entire cast back into a single game that will all be about fighting evil along with a simple, but intriguing storyline that evolves the game in a way that makes sense. I don't think it matters either whether Shadow aligns with Eggman or with Sonic, as long as there's not too much soap opera thrown into the mix. We want the characters to go at it in a great platform game, not put their feelings on the table and talk about how their childhood got them to be how they are today… and we don’t want princesses either.

Also, I would personally keep the voice acting to a minimum. This is perhaps what has made the Sonic storyline go bananas in the past decade – the developers constantly have to justify what a character has previously “said” with how they build the next chapter of the story. By making the characters keep their mouth shut, they will have more freedom to create a more diverse and interesting story. Besides, in Sonic 3 I could perfectly understand what was going on with the characters even if they didn’t say a word. When Sonic and Knuckles crossed path in Sonic 3, not a word needed to be said to understand the rivalry.

So I hope you liked this little rent and wishlist (*fingers-crossed*), and please leave your own solutions for this series in the comments below. Sonic fans, try to really think about what makes a great Sonic game and take it to the developers, because they’re probably asking the same questions as we are! As you might have noticed up top, I’ve placed a little classic Sonic sequence to put you in the mood. Notice how the small appearance by Knuckles is incredibly short, but still effective as far as the “storyline” is concerned.

Article by - Marc-André Messier
Insert Date: 3/20/2013

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